UN: Libya Arms Fueling Mali, Syria Wars

Arms Still Spreading at an 'Alarming Rate'

A new UN report addressing the now fairly longstanding problem of arms smuggling out of Libya reveals that despite huge outlays of money from NATO the weapons continue to flow out of Libya at “an alarming rate,” fueling wars across the region.

The problem has been growing ever since NATO imposed regime change in Libya, with the Gadhafi government collapsing while still controlling Tripoli, and the rebels not having any presence there, leaving arms warehouses open to widespread looting, allowing decades of stockpiled weapons onto the black market.

The textbook example of the destabilizing influence of this was in Mali, where Tuareg mercenaries returned from Libya with modern gear and quickly routed the Malian Army, setting the stage for a war that now has France talking about a permanent occupation of Mali.

The new UN report reveals arms are cropping up across the whole region now, with significant amounts of weapons showing up in Syria. The report suggested that while the early shipments were made by smugglers, the sheer size and regularity of the ongoing shipments to Syria suggest the new NATO-backed Libyan government is involved in the transfers.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for Antiwar.com. He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.